23 October, 2020

Burger Courtier

There is little to commend in this novel for which we must blame the generosity—or carelessness—of India’s burgeoning publishing industry

Burger Courtier
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The tumultuous events of 1984 can, and certainly will, provide an emotionally charged setting for many a novel. But the traumatic backdrop of Bhindranwale’s rise, Operation Bluestar, Mrs Gandhi’s assassination and the horrific anti-Sikh riots is wasted on Amarjit Sidhu’s cliche-loaded No Way Home. Unable to mine these events for their human tragedy, he can only treat them as reportage. Consequently, his weak protagonist, Dave (short for Davinder) arouses no sympathy even when caught in the riots.

Sidhu’s superficial narrative follows Dave as he chases his great American dream from Chandigarh to the US. After driving on interstate highways, drifting from one friend and shared apartment to another, staring wide-eyed at such American icons as a McDonald’s or a doughnut shop, he returns home with a “sense of the newness of re-recognition,” whatever that may be. His half-hearted attempts to discover Punjabi art and literature predictably fall on their face. Then 1984 happens and he escapes to...

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